• What’s Your Dream Story? (Plus: Giveaway)

What does it mean to tell a meaningful story?…

And by “what does it mean,” we mean…

How much work really goes into it?
What kinds of decisions have to be made along the way?
How do we get funding?
And most importantly… at what moment do you know that a story HAS meaning, and what does it really mean to go all in and commit to telling it?

These and about one million other questions have had to be answered in the last 8 months of telling the #standwithme story. We put together this making of film together (shout out to Joyce for her direction on the piece) to talk about what it has meant for us to tell this story. Where our minds have been, what we feared (and currently fear) going into this, and why this story matters so much to us (and hopefully to you too).

The best stories reach far and wide to bring back something bigger. That is what this piece is when we watch it – a much bigger picture of what we’ve done together.

This BTS piece debuted on No Film School last week, and we wanted to bring it to our blog today to ask all of you a question:

What’s a story YOU really want to tell? Something you’ve always wanted to explore with your camera in hand — a story you would tell not only because it’s good, but because it actually means something to you? We want to hear from you, and we are offering our KNOW Field Guide as a thank you to several people who get involved in the conversation.

We’re asking this because we’re currently very high on the feeling of finishing a film that means more to us than anything — and we think that MORE filmmakers need to get out and do this, knowing that the challenges of creating a film can be approached differently now, in the year (almost) 2014 when we all have more resources and creative outlets at our fingertips than ever.

is a story we told our own way, and we plan do distribute it in our own way — and we think it’s one example of how this industry is changing. Lucky for storytellers like us and you — it’s a good change — one that means we have more freedom to tell stories that matter, the stories we want to tell, and there is hope for getting the world to see it with so many new and unconventional tools.

We’re planning to go in-depth on this topic more next — but for now, we want to hear from you…

What’s your dream story?

If budget, time, outside priorities, or whatever is holding you back wasn’t an issue… what film would you create?

Tell us about that story.

Tell us the story that you’d love to tell.

Let go, and dream.

Submit your dream story to the comments by 11:59pm PST Wednesday, December 11th(For a chance to win the KNOW Field Guide…)

Give US the elevator pitch — the idea in an exciting way, in just a few sentences (in the comment section of this post).

Patrick, George, and Maggie will each choose ONE, and we’ll send out a copy of our KNOW Field Guide to each of our choices.

We’re doing this little contest as incentive for you to just TELL SOMEONE about your dream idea. Someone who will listen and care, someone who has made that leap into the unknown to follow a great story.

We’re here to dream with you.

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46 Thoughts on “What’s Your Dream Story?
(Plus: Giveaway)

  1. I am actually living my dream now thanks to you guys pushing us forward with Evo and Take Action. We have filmed the first story of a documentary which will be about solidarity. Here it is:

    We will continue by meeting more people who are showing solidarity to others in need during this time of crisis in Southern Europe. For example there is the story of an electrician who reconnects people’s homes who were cut off due to unpaid electricity bills. He was recently acquitted as the court decided that the electricity company is not harmed by his practice.
    Or there is a group of farmers who decided to “cut out the middleman” and sell their produce directly to the public at much cheaper prices.
    If anybody is reading this from Spain, Portugal or Italy please feel free to share your knowledge about similar actions which may be worth filming.

    We still have some technical issues (sound quality, grading, better planning of shots etc), which we need to improve on. But out first story already seems to stir emotions in people who watch it. We certainly were very very emotional when we met these people.

  2. Hi Guys,

    Seriously you continue to blow me away. I’m the co-founder of a non-profit working to give girls in Sierra Leone, West Africa access to education. A girl in Sierra Leone is more likely to be sexually assaulted then she is to attend high school. I’ve been following your journey with #standwithme went to the facebook page all the way back to the first post. Everything you guys are doing really resonates with me, like hits my core. From the trailer, the behind the scenes the webinar.. I can tell this movie has the power to inspire so many people around the world into action. Simply amazing. Thank you for telling stories with heart!

    I don’t have one particular story.. I have lots of stories.. we’re providing 200 hundred girls with education scholarships and supportung hundreds more through our other education programs. Each one of the girls has their own story unique story just as powerful as the other. I’m heading back over to Sierra Leone early Jan. Pretty excited! Will be capturing the story of one of our scholarship girls from one the slum communities we work in.

    One of my favs stories though is this last one I finished a couple of weeks ago.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OI_rjEHClro

    After coming across the stillmotionblog and reading/watching everything you guys have every made… (I’m not crazy I promise… haha), have really taken on storytelling.. so much so my new title at work is Chief Storyteller.. Anywho thanks for the inspiration and the tips. Can’t wait to see the film!

    Dave :)

    • Dave, Wow. The organization, the mission, the current state of affairs in West Africa — all of these need more attention. I’ll be in touch to get shipping details so we can send some of our edu resources your way.

      Thanks so much for sharing. Best -George

  3. “Do Good”

    The dream film that I want to create is about local people – business people, ordinary people, volunteers, non-profit CEO’s, old people, young people and the ones in between – I want to tell the stories of people who are doing good.

    The vision is that this film will allow audiences to see that it doesn’t take much for people to do good where they live. That there are many who are doing little things each day to make a large impact.

    I want to travel to a variety of cities and meet people all across the nation who are doing simple acts of kindness each day. I want to share why they decide to give their time and effort to do good.

    It doesn’t take much, it just takes getting up and doing something, anything. This is the simple dream that I want to share.

    • Love the idea :)

      Have you thought about how you’re going to stitch the stories together? It would be really powerful if you could find that common thread amongst them all and then take the viewer on a journey that leaves them wanting more so that they are moved to action. I really hope to see this film one day.

      - Joyce

  4. Dear Stillmotion,

    To preface my idea..I’d first like to say that I’m a narrative filmmaker at heart. I write/direct/shoot/edit everything from music & corporate videos to short and feature films. Ran a video production company out of Birmingham, AL for 4 years before making the big leap to sunny LA in late August. Of course I’m in that whole ‘big fish, big pond’ kind of zone now..which takes constant self-encouragement to keep chugging along.

    Anywho..in LA now, one of my best friends(and my 1st AD on most projects) is in the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton about an hour 1/2 away. We try and schedule shoots around his leave days and such..but the connection to my idea comes from my visit to his base a couple months ago. My wife and I drove him back to his base, which is huge btw, around 9 pm one night. We took the long route and saw most of the base, which was awesome to see. Now..what wasn’t awesome to see was his actual living barricks.

    It was a warm night in Southern California..and we blasted the air in the car on the ride up, obviously. We walk to his 3rd floor room and open the door and almost fell over from the heat wave that blasted out of his room. After catching our breath we SQUEEZED inside the door. See there are 2 grown men living in a room that is fit for a 9-year-old. It is TINY. Not only is it tiny, but they have to store all of their own gear inside the room. They have these ridiculous pull-out drawers under each bed crammed with boots, holsters, and coats. You slink your way through to find a ‘closet’ that holds their entire wardrobes taking up any small bit of hall space leading to the bathroom they share. I almost forgot to mention the lack of air conditioning..it made me sick to be in there for 10 minutes.

    Needless to say, these living conditions aren’t fit for anyone, much less the men fighting for our country..men who go out and train(hike, shoot, work out) 5 days a week..only to come ‘home’ to these absurd living quarters. I know there’s a story here. I want this to change. I don’t know if the military would let me in to film..and would hope that if I snuck in the 5D I wouldn’t go to jail if it were run’n'gun. Just whenever anyone says..”what would you do if you could shoot anything” ..it seems so obvious that my first documentary undertaking would somehow try and tackle the living conditions of the men and women of our armed forces.


  5. Wow, the ideas shared so far have been amazing and are definitely ones that I would want to see.

    I myself am about to graduate in a couple months with a bachelors in cinema production from UVU, some fellow students and I are avid readers of the blog here and one of my friends already registered for your workshop in Denver (quite a drive from Orem, Utah). I am knee deep in my senior project, helping a non-profit with their branding by producing a mini doc and some PSA’s. It is quite amazing what they do, therapeutic horseback riding for children with certain types of disabilities, ADHD, Autism and Reactive Attachment Disorder. It is a fun little project.

    My dream project is on a much bigger scale. I am about to take the plunge and start paperwork for a fiancé visa for a girl I met a couple years ago on a service expedition in Africa. The story I want to tell is that of navigating the immigration department of the United States and the setbacks and positives that it entails. The story wouldn’t necessarily be my own as I know others who have been successful in marrying foreign nationals from the same country as this girl, but the process itself is long, tedious and expensive. The premise basically is that of “does love really conquer all and break all boundaries?” including financial, language, culture, and the United States Department of Immigration.

  6. Since taking the Stillmotion Take Action training this summer I decided to create a documentary focusing on the parents and families of children identified as possibly having disabilities; especially infants and toddlers. Very often the families, when receiving this news, can be in a state of shock. This is often labeled as denial. Frequently the family will pass off the potential diagnosis, even prior to reliable and professional evaluation, as simply being late or delayed development. Often this is supported by a medical opinion from a family doctor and even some pediatricians as being a temporary condition that will be alleviated in additional time that will allow for additional development. This sometimes is true but in some cases it is a faulty assumption that delays the child from receiving the proper therapeutic interventions. Usually the best professionals qualified in this type of evaluation are therapists; speech, occupational, and physical therapists. They are also the professionals best suited to provide the most appropriate and effective therapeutic interventions. I have experienced the “denial” syndrome, and BTW that term is often unfair and judgmental, both professionally as an Occupational Therapist and as a family member. In truth, the family is simply not ready at accept the fact that their child may not be “normal,” an expectation most or all parents have of their children. As a family member experiencing the denial through both my wife’s family and my own family the consequence of addressing that denial in any way can result in profound negative consequences. As a result my documentary is designed to provide parents and families in this conundrum an opportunity to hear stories of families that have been through the same situation and provide the support and reassurances often needed. Stories would be offered by professionals as well. It is my hope that the documentary can be a mechanism by which more children will receive needed therapeutic interventions while the access to those inventions is the most critical. I have begun the documentary process through planning and filming initial interviews. It has been an evolving process and has become more and more exciting as I continue. I thank Stillmotion for offering their expertise to assist others in pursuing the goals of creating meaningful films, as I envision mine to be.

    • Hi Jacob, I went through this experience more than 40 years ago, and am always distressed to see and hear that so little has changed since then. My son was born with a very rare syndrome — fewer than 2000 individuals in the world have it. What an experience, with more ups and downs than a roller coaster! If I can be of any help on your project, don’t hesitate to contact me. Best of luck with your project!

  7. I had a professor who taught philosophy my freshman year of college. During class one day he mentioned his father who has been incarcerated for 38 years for the murder of his wife (my professor’s mother), a neighbor woman and the neighbor woman’s two young daughters.

    The thing is, my professor is completely convinced that his father is innocent. Him and his brother have conducted extensive research and collaborated with others who are convinced of the same thing. They have created a website outlining their findings very clearly. After spending time researching and creating a written story on the topic, I came away convinced as well. My professor’s father clearly could not have committed the murders based on the evidence. Foul play with the local police seems to be what has kept an innocent man in prison for so long.

    In a tragic twist of fate, my professor’s brother died in a motorcycle accident five years ago at the age of 38. He left behind a wife, two kids and the burden of his father’s case on my professor. Four years ago I wrote a story on the case, but had to leave out certain details and couldn’t ruffle any feathers. My professor wanted to keep it quiet until he could convince a human rights group to pick up the case and pay for further DNA testing.

    His frustration seems to be deepening and he is now on the verge of wanting to go as public as he can. I want to offer my help to create a documentary on his family’s story both because it could both raise attention to this injustice and tell a riveting story. If my professor’s father were to be released, he would set a new record in the country for the longest time incarcerated and then freed.

    I’m scared to offer my assistance because of my shortage of professional gear, funds and experience. I’m just getting my legs underneath me now and putting together some decent equipment and work, but I want to make sure this story gets its proper treatment. Any help would be much appreciated.

    I think this would be an appropriate time as well to thank all of stillmotion for the absolutely incredible contributions you have made to the storytelling community. Your advice and tutorials have educated so many. It’s staggering to think of the waves of positive change that will ripple around the world for years to come because of your work. Please, please, please keep it up. You’re doing more than you can even imagine.

  8. My friend and her husband are makers of custom jewellery here in Vancouver. Their life isn’t entirely dedicated to the pursuit of their art though. They spend a lot of time traveling and advocating for fair-minded and fair trade mining:

    “Hume Atelier has been involved in the development of Fair Trade gold since 2006. We participated in the external consultation process with Fairtrade International, and developed key relationships in the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the Alliance for Responsible Mining. We are excited to announce that Fairtrade and Fairmined gold received its certification in February 2011. Hume Atelier is a licensee of Fairtrade International.”

    I love this. I love how they have taken things a step further with their business and they are seeking ways to make things better and spread the word that things can be better.

    Mining injustice throughout the world is a huge problem. Many mining companies wreak havoc on the environment and the local communities they are part of. There are mines in Guatemala that have poisoned the drinking water of villages are are pumping mercury into the air. There are mines in Africa that exist where many workers die from the poor conditions and get paid next to nothing for their work. There are mines that divide communities–pitting those who are employed at mines against those who don’t like what the mines are doing to their land. A lot of mining companies are headquartered in developed countries, but they run their mines in struggling, underdeveloped countries where there are no policies to protect the people. The thing is, mining isn’t ever going to go away. The demand for mined products is huge and the damage that unethical mines do is devastating.

    There are third ways–possibilities and alternatives for making things better. Hume Atelier was recently in Rwanda and posted this Instagram shot of a mine there that is thriving and benefiting the community on so many levels (http://instagram.com/p/g6kDXbS8K5/#) “The little mine that could. Who is chemical-free. Who uses its tailings as soil to grow 40 acres of organic strawberries. Who employs local women to make jam to sell in the city. Who hires and trains (the now adult) orphans of the genocide. Who pays for the degrees of 50 science and geology students each year at the University of Kigali. Who provides safe and secure housing for its staff. Who built a church and mosque side-by-side on site. The little mine that could.”

    That kind of story inspires me! I am a photographer and it would be my dream to create work that is related to social justice, mining justice, etc. How incredible would it be to go to that mine in Rwanda, photograph the story there and write about it–share it with the world. And at the same time, photograph the mines that are devastating communities. Bring faces to the issue and raise the bar for mining corporations–create accountability where there is none. These are stories that need to be told–the good and the bad. The life-giving mines, and the mines that could do much better. Is there any way this could be my job? I wish! Need another team member? Vancouver office? ;)

    Thanks for reading. Definitely coming to your Vancouver showing of Stand With Me. Hoping to bring a bunch of friends too!

  9. I traveled to Kenya last March with a non-profit that helps establish family homes for children who have been orphaned by AIDS. These are not orphanages where the children leave & are often abandoned again after age 18. They are adopted into a home — these are their brothers & sisters, their mother & father, this is their family for life. It is the non-profit’s hope that adopting these beautiful children into physical homes, that are loving & God-centered, will ultimately lead them to be adopted into God’s spiritual family.

    I was only there to document the trip with a highlights reel, but our vision for the video grew as we interviewed the parents & leaders who were so passionate about the orphan crisis in Africa & Kenya. Their love for the orphans & the enormous sacrifices they make to shelter these children was so humbling, we realized more & more that we had to share their stories.

    What was even more humbling & amazing was that these children were so full of joy & generosity. To know the stories of what some of them have been through — one young brother & sister were locked & abandoned in a shed for days without food or water after their father ran away after discovering he had AIDS. There was one girl in particular that moved me deeply. Both her parents died from AIDS and she was given to her grandmother who was a prostitute. At such a young age (under 14), she became a prostitute as well. When her grandmother could no longer take care of her, she was adopted into the family home and changed her name to Purity. Her smile & her gentle spirit could melt your heart – you would have never known what brokenness this girl has been through.

    The scope of the story we hope to share is daunting. We want to raise awareness of the orphan crisis in Kenya, we want to share what these incredible individuals & parents are doing, we want to share the stories of the children. There are times when I feel completely inadequate in telling such a “big” story, and I question whether this is an endeavor I can execute well. When I take a step back though, I think this story has a simple message at heart. Love heals. Love transforms. Love makes the broken whole again.

    My ideas are a bit all over the place – we’re still planning things out ;) I plan on going back in March 2014 for additional footage after storyboarding & planning it out more thoroughly.

    There are so many incredibly stories already shared & posted on here. So blessed to be apart of a community with so much compassion!

  10. I’ve long wanted to tell my grandmother’s story, but it always feels like there isn’t enough time. She’ll be 90 in 2 years, she tires easily, my own patience with her isn’t what it should be, but I still want to get the stories before they fade from her memory, or worse, with her entirely.

    My grandmother, Gladys Lucille, was born 5 years before the Great Depression hit. Her childhood was one of near-poverty in rural Michigan and Indiana, lived on farms and over shops as her parents did odd jobs in order to support her and her 5 younger siblings. Today, her mother would be diagnosed with a mental disease of some sort – likely manic depressive disorder or schizophrenia. Her childhood wasn’t a particularly happy one, and only became worse emotionally when she learned in a fight with her mother that her father wasn’t her father. She was illegitimate, and probably Jewish (a large stigma in the rural Midwest in the 1930). Meanwhile, her mother bore several children late in life, and Grandma Lucy had to start acting like a mother to toddlers and infants at age 12, since her mother suffered from “the vapors” and couldn’t get out of bed most days.

    She married at 16 to escape home, and it was out of the frying pan and into the fire. He was an abuser. He drank too much and when the second world war started, she was glad to see him go for a time. She dealt with marital rape and abuse when he was on leave, though – which is how my oldest uncle and aunt came to be. She didn’t see much of his paycheck when he was in the service, as he drank most of it himself. She got a lot of practice supporting herself and multiple kids as a war bride.

    After the war, she couldn’t put up with it much longer. He chased her and the three kids around the house with a shotgun, and she filed for divorce soon after. Divorce? In uber-Catholic northern Indiana, in the 1940s? Unheard of! Scandal! She sued for and won custody of the kids, as well as a small alimony settlement and child support (which he never paid). She then started taking odd jobs herself, which is how she met my grandfather. She was waitressing, and he was a flirt. He took a shine to her and eventually convinced her to marry him – nevermind that she was “damaged goods” and had three kids. Grandpa Eugene loved kids and wanted to have a billion of them.

    She did not love my grandfather when she married him, but bore him three more children anyways. She felt beholden to a man to basically dragged her out of single-motherhood and poverty, who made her his partner in many aspects of his work and life. Together, they ran a construction business, an apartment complex and landlorded several other properties, made a home for six kids and sent most of them to college. She finished her GED at age 40 and was an active member of the local Democrats until she was in her late 70s, because she staunchly believed in the party. “Well, they’re not as daft as the other guys,” she explained to me when I asked her why she was still a Democrat.

    My grandmother is a strange mixture of practical and romantic, politically involved and yet so steeped in that rural 1930s cultural mentality. She’s not politically correct. She calls the small waterway at the end of her property a “crick.” She still calls my nose piercing “a sticker” and laments my plans for a tattoo. She thought it strange I didn’t take my husband’s name, and doesn’t consider herself a feminist, despite the fact that she was fighting in her personal life for every single thing the feminists of her time and later were working for. Her entire life is a series of god-awful things happening to her, but her story is one of perseverance, hard-work and determination. One that deserves to be told before it is too late.

  11. For one of my TAC assignments a few weeks ago, I interviewed Leo Curtis, an Army sergeant who was hit by an I.E.D. in Iraq. After twenty-eight surgeries, three years of rehab and six years of isolation trying to escape the impact of his injuries and PTSD, Leo discovered wheelchair fencing. And his life started to change. After training for just 12 months, Leo became the 2013 U.S. National Wheelchair Saber Champion. His goal: to qualify for, and compete in, the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, “…so that I can show, not just tell, other wounded vets that, no matter how much they have lost, it’s possible to realize their dreams…” Leo and his coaches have invited me to document his journey, as he competes around the world in pursuit of his dream. I don’t have a clue, right now, how I will work through all the logistics of such a complex project. But, even though my legs work just fine, I don’t think I can walk away from this one. It feels like one of the best “pay it forward” projects I can imagine.

    • It sounds like a big undertaking but definitely one worth pursuing. Hopefully what we have shared on the blog and in our workshops will help you in your quest to tell this inspirational story. If there’s something specific you have questions on feel free to reach out and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction.

      Good luck in this journey and we look forward to seeing it when it’s done!

      - Joyce

  12. Stillmotion,

    I don’t have a story about slavery, or a thought-provoking idea, but I have one that means a lot to me. I am currently working on it as well. There is a small liberal arts college nestled in between the appalachian mountains and the blue ridge mountains in Virginia called Southern VA University. I work as the Lead Videographer here, so funding really isn’t a problem, but it has taken me months to get this together and finally get the green light to go ahead and do it. I am honestly really scared about how it will turn out or if it will turn out the way I want it to, but with a little self-deception, as Sidney Lumet says, I believe in it. Its a story about hope, excellence, building dreams, and friendship. This is a place where students can come and receive an individualized education in a small-classroom environment from professors who care and know your name. They are invested in the student’s future. I know this because I graduated from the school and have experienced it first hand. My video is pretty simple: introduce the school in a way that will lead to action, whether it be to come and visit or come to stay I don’t know. But, I hope that people will want to know more, and find out how they can help advance the “genius of small.”

    • Passion projects is where we do our best work. I’m excited for you to tell a story that means so much to you.

      It sounds like you want this film to lead to some kind of action but there’s a bit of uncertainty in what that is (come visit or stay) and we’d suggest you really hash that out in pre-pro before starting. That’ll pave the way for a lot of the decisions you’ll be making and make for a much clearer, more actionable film. Best of luck!

      - Joyce

  13. Tattoos….. and the taboo’s around them.

    I am fascinated by the mindset of those who tattoo their body. Why do they do it? What do they hope to achieve by doing it? What does it mean to them? Did they choose their tattoo for a certain reason? How do their friends and family feel? Do they regret it…

    And also the other side, those who are against tattoos…. why are they against them?

    I’d like to do a short docu on this subject, with a few character. The for, the against, the unsure and the tattoo artist……

    I really want to get in the minds and understand these people.

  14. Hi,

    I’m a highschool teacher from a small french city in Quebec.

    A few years ago, I started a class of cinematography in my highschool. Then I fell accidently on your blog and your wonderful tutorials. I was in love. Your way of working was simply inspiring. I tried to give all my knowledge and my passion to my students. They learned much faster than I tought. Last year, four teenagers of our school won the Canadian drug prevention video contest while two others won the Quebec video contest which the goal was to sensitize young Québécois about work accident. From that moment, everything’s change. They knew they had the talent and the power to touch people by telling stories.

    Today, I’m surfing their wave, trying to guide those 80 teenagers in their documentary projects. I love the curiosity, the engagement that push themself to make a difference.

    The best moments are truly each time one of my students is presenting his or her short documentary on a big screen in our school. They are always looking at other people’s face to catch every emotion and then they’re looking in my direction their eyes saying : « MY STORY IS RELEVANT».

    These students, aged between 11 and 16 years old, are the new generation. They want to tell stories that matters to them and by doing this, they inspire me. I’m very proud of them.

    And in their film, it is obvious to me, there is a little of Stillmotion’s magic. Thanks again guys. You are not only changing the world by doing an awesome documentary like #standwtihme. You are also showing us how you did it and why this cause matters to you.

    Your work is pure generosity and you know what…it’s contagious!

    Someday, I’m gonna tell the story of those young storytellers.

    P.S. After your tour, you should share #standwithme with teachers from all around the world. People must know.

    • David,

      This is all incredibly touching.

      Thank you for sharing what we do with your students, and your story with us.

      Let us know how we can help. Perhaps we could do a live stream for your class as a guest lesson.


  15. My Dream Story is a story about Heritage. What defines a people? How do the defining marks of a culture affect the definition of the individuals within that culture? How are aspects of that culture in us even being raised apart from it?

    This is an exploration of the Garifuna culture, a people who landed in St. Vincent, were exiled to Honduras, and now are located in Honduras, Guatemala and Belize, as well as a number of large cities in the US. It is an exploration of my own heritage. My parents are both Garifuna, born and raised in Honduras. What defines them? What role, if any, did their heritage play in who they are today? Although I was raised apart from the Garifuna culture, how are aspects of that culture still in me?

    A side examination is about what to include in your family story, your heritage? Does telling the family story involve keeping both the good and the bad? Should we keep pruning away the bad or darker stories and just keep the good, thus presenting the best image? Or should the bad stories also be kept and told as a warning for future generations?

    I don’t feel like I know enough about my family or my roots. I’d like to learn before they are gone.

  16. Hello Stillmotion,

    First off thank you for all the work you do in education for filmmakers it truly inspires me! I would love to tell the story of a great friend of mine Randy Odom who is a missionary in Cambodia. Randy works at an orphanage in Cambodia with his wife and there son Noel who they adopted from the orphanage. Noel like many other children in Cambodia suffers from AIDS. Randy’s story is very powerful, they have gone through many struggles from their orphanage losing funding and helping these kids have a future. Randy and his wife have such a heart for these children and I would love for the opportunity to tell their story.

    Nathaniel K

  17. I dropped out of high school as a white male and found the film industry in my early 20′s. I see tons of kids in Nashville fall victim to bad schools and a lack of “other options” such as a trade in film. Almost every type of job can be founding the film industry, right down to carpenters and electricians. If they were given a camera, an option and someone who believed in the them I believe these kids could change culture. I want to start a production company comprised of the kids voted “most eligible to drop out or fail” and see what happens. The end story would not only be a documentary of the process but a finished film made by the kids in the production company.

    Thanks for all you guys do around here. It’s a breath of fresh air to see true educators in this industry. Your a inspiration to the education”less”!

    • Talk about inspiration! Helping kids in that situation find something they’ll enjoy but also a craft that keeps them on the right track sounds like an awesome idea. It reminds me of why Teresa at Old Skool does what she does in San Fran.

      I love the idea of telling their story and then also have them create their own film. We’ve tried something like that before and the meta part of filming them filming and whatnot can be challenging at times, but a ton of fun :)

      - Joyce

  18. While I think an indefinite timetable can actually be an impediment to getting a project done (I really need a deadline to focus), the idea of having a “magic wand” to tell my best story is a tantalizing one.

    As a native Portlander, I have been both enthralled and alarmed at the changes my hometown has undergone over the last twenty years. The city has attracted legions of young, creative people (such as the fine folks at Stillmotion), who are drawn to the region’s natural beauty, progressive ideals, and great beer. At least at the moment, Portland is one of the country’s “it” cities. It even has its own spoof TV show.

    At the same time, far from the Klieg lights of the “Portlandia” set, there is another Portland whose residents are not known for fussing over the parentage of their chicken. Rising home values in neighborhoods traditionally occupied by African Americans have pushed many of the city’s black residents out of close-in neighborhoods to less-attractive zones east of the I-205 freeway.

    My project would follow an African-American family in the Sabin neighborhood–where I attended elementary school in the 1980s–that was no longer able to afford to live in this historically black part of town. In telling their story, I would try to draw connections to the larger saga of black Portland after WWII, and to the downsides of urban redevelopment and gentrification.

    Thanks for the opportunity to dream a bit!

  19. A few months ago, we met Lucy Borja. She has been fighting for decades in order to help children who are in terrible conditions. Being forced to work, being sexually enslaved or simply not being taken care by their families. Her project is called Generación.
    What Lucy has been doing is giving them a house, studies, and love. What would be normal for any children to have. Plus, she has a team of psychologists who help the children and also help her talk to kids all over town to convince them that robbing or being exploited is NOT the only way.
    It’s not an easy job. She knows the exact places where all the horrible situations are being carried but children are lied to, and don’t want to leave. There are some big mafias that are not easy to fight.
    She has had many problems while trying to do this task. Neighbours demanded the mayor to shut one of her houses because they didn’t wanted to live near ‘steet children’. So for a while, they didn’t have a place to go.
    A few years ago, some of the children were sexually attacked by a well known journalist. She sued him, accused him and eventually nothing happened. He has more media power. The situation with this journalist never ended as she is still legally harrased by him.

    As you can see, the situation is not easy. She has more enemies than allies, but that doesn’t make sense! the work she does is magnificent.

    We met her and many of the children only for an afternoon, but we knew that their story had to be told. People around the country need to know about what she does, about the great and positive impact she’s had, about the children’s story and about the truth behind the horrible case with the journalist.

    Lucy needs her voice to be heard by millions, and not only by the few people who have met her.

  20. I always thought a dream project would be one that would have unlimited time and budget. I was recently given the opportunity to make a passion project, that I had been thinking about for years. I responded to a call for film makers from soulpancake.com on twitter. I pitched the idea for “The Fatherhood Project” in a one page pdf.
    I got picked to shoot a pilot! Suddenly I was forced to put things on hold and make it happen. I just wrapped and in hindsight I think that all of the constraints forced me to tell a good story. In particular the constraint of time. It forced me to quickly make decisions and be brutally honest all the while trying to do it in a unique way.
    I attended one of your classes in Chicago and I am grateful for you and your willingness to teach and inspire. Keep it up!

    Here is a link to the finished project:

    • That sounds a lot like a phrase that makes its way around the SM studio from time to time: “Creativity is born out of constraint.” – And we couldn’t agree more. We’ve done shoots where spent 3 hours setting up for an interview and we’ve also done ones that were almost as good in just 15mins. So while we all love having the proper resources to tell a story the most important thing is to just go out and do it. Congrats on pushing forward with this project and going through with it all the way to the end. I enjoyed the parallel between your boy’s quest to navigate through the woods with his compass and your quest to navigate your way through fatherhood, it was a smart way to move the viewer through that journey. Bravo :)

      - Joyce

  21. It really looks like your hard work paid off. Can’t wait to see it when you swing through KC in February!

    Currently, we’re in the early planning stages of a documentary looking at adoption, but more specifically the difficulty of adoption and how that drives children in to the foster care system when there are many permanent placements waiting to be filled. My wife and I have some very dear friends that had a child placed in their home after being selected by the birth mother, only to have that child removed after several weeks when the birth mother changed her mind. Not only did it hurt their family, having their daughter taken away, but the child was placed directly in to foster care because the birth mother was in no position to take care of a few week old baby.

    So out of my love for them and our desire to bring some light on this broken process as a whole, that’s my dream story.

  22. My Father passed away at the Age of 90 about 4 years ago. He was a retired Chief Engineer in the Merchant Marines. Three months before he died(he had terminal cancer) he told me some never before stories of his early days as a merchant seaman during WWII.

    The story really starts with America’s first entry into the War, when we were not really active participants. We had no real boots-on the ground, in today’s parlance. However, our Country had decided to support and ship vital supplies to our Allies, Fighting the German’s in New Zealand.

    Consisting of numerous trips across the treacherous North Atlantic that was heavily patrolled by German U-Boats. Many of our merchant seaman, never made it home. They risked their lives and yet, when the War was over, they never achieved any type of recognition by the VA for their services even though by law they were designated as “a naval or military auxiliary in time of war . . .” It was not until 1994 when a US President Acknowledged their contributions proclaiming, “Their sacrifices were crucial to victory.”

    In 1988, a Bill Authorizing Veteran Status was authorized after a prolonged battle and orders from a Federal Judge. However, many MM were unable to gain the status they deserved because of shoddy record keeping by the Military during WWII.

    There has been one Documentary produced that covers some of the hardships of Merchant Mariners during the War, but it is heavily angles towards the topic Liberty Ships and the Men Who sailed them.

    I would like to pick-up where this story left off……including filling details like the War in Zealand and bring it to present day, with the over aim of seeing that ALL of our War Veterans receive all the rights as Full Military Veterans that they should have been granted in the first place. The struggle to gain acceptance and recognition as a Veteran needs to be told and preserved. My Father never attained his Veteran status before he died even though I encouraged him, due to the difficulties in the narration of the law.

    We are loosing the last remaining men that served our Nation Honorably….there are still some great stories to be told by survivors. We owe it to their legacy and to our Children to ensure this story gets told that wrongs righted by our Congress.

  23. Hi Patrick, Long time no talk. I just wanted to leave a quick message here as i was watching your first movie trailer because i am just in AWE in seeing what you guys have put together so far for this documentary. I mean this story gets right to the core of what it is to be part of this great be world. Kudos to you, Amina, Joyce and the whole team at SM. I’m really happy i stopped by today.

    Great work my friend and i can’t wait to see the finish product.

    Keep in touch.

  24. There are an increasing number of Millennials entering the workforce, and so many of them are looking for “startup-like” places to work. Flexible hours, bottomless coffee, killer break-rooms, and fantastic benefits packages. But what truly makes GREAT company culture?

    I want to dive into the question and discover not just what employees THINK they want in a company, but what timeless principles have been proven to work. We spend the greater part of our lives “working” so why not enjoy it? I want the film to educate employers, companies AND employees on the practical things they can do to achieve great culture NOW!

    In similar fashion to (and inspired by) “I’m Fine Thanks,” we will take to the streets and tell the story!

    Keep up the awesome, inspiring work StillMotion, you guys ROCK!

    • Thanks Patrick! I am working on the concept development now and brainstorming a few of the key parties to reach out to begin the process. I appreciate your feedback and encouragement!


  25. My dream story isn’t about a dying child, natural disaster, or a man dealing with his last few months he has on earth due to a rare type of cancer. This idea for a mini-doc comes from my love of coffee and the small town I live in that seems to have a coffee shop/stand on every corner in town. I live in a relatively small town in central Washington, about 2 hours away from the Starbucks capital of the world. In just doing a quick search on google maps, there are 113 coffee shops/stands/houses in the area. Subtracting 8 Starbucks and 1 Dutch Bros. we are left with 104 other results. The vast majority of the coffee stands in town are locally owned and operated. My story wouldn’t be the obvious “small business competing with major corporations”, but rather why our culture today has such strong ties to coffee and why it’s an important part of our daily ritual through the perspective of these local businesses who share a state with Seattle, but are otherwise a separate entity all together. I will continue to keep this in the back of my mind for something I want to do “someday”, but until that day comes I will keep reading your blog, watching your videos and taking in all of the amazing content the stillmotion team has to offer. You guys are truly inspirational. Hope to see you in Seattle,
    - Alex

  26. Dear all at Stillmotion

    I have followed your posts for sometime now and I just want to say “well done.” I think you are are a really skilled and hard working bunch of people who are passionate about what you do. I wish you every success with your Stand With Me film.

    I am a film maker based in London and if you ever find yourself in London and need some help with anything, I would be happy to help out if I can.

    In the meantime keep up the good work, you are not going unnoticed.
    Kind regards

  27. I’m a senior at the University of Iowa, graduating in May. This past year, my school was named as the “Number One Party School in America.” Many students greeted this ranking with enthusiasm and embraced it wholeheartedly, however there is a dark reality about our party atmosphere. We have a collective drinking problem and it hurts people and the community. This reality is not something to celebrate and is not something many people actually see. I want to tell the story of the reality of America’s number one party school and the realities of the drinking culture that got us that ranking.

    • Sounds interesting and not something I’ve personally heard of.

      Have you thought about how you might tell the story – as in how you would get the coverage of this actually happening? Seems like the interviews, background story, etc would have some great options in the area, but the actual coverage seems to be the challenge.


    • Ian,

      This is a front runner for my favorite submission. I graduated from the University of Oregon just over a year ago, and it’s also known as a major party school. Me and my friends did our share of partying, too, but it can quickly become such a problem for some people and it’s sad to watch that happen firsthand.

      I think your idea is so good — because these party school “rankings” come out annually and a lot of people do know about them, but there does need to be more attention drawn to the fact that alcoholism is being celebrated in this bizarre way. Then there are all the horrible and often overlooked things that come along with party culture. I know for me and my friends it was not a fun fact to be attending one of the country’s top party schools. It was embarrassing, and frightening to think that this is such a major part of academia.

      Even just a short piece on this topic has the potential to be super powerful. I vote you find an opportunity to do this as a special project at your school (maybe even find a way to get some funding through the university or your department), and make it happen. I’d watch!

    • Thanks for the responses guys.

      I’ve definitely thinking about the best way to tell the story. I think going out with students and showing the day to day reality is important as well as highlight specific stories that are important.

      One story I want to specifically touch on is the story of Curtis Fry, a college student who got drunk and murdered an elderly man who he thought was in his apartment. It’s a strong example of the consequences of over indulgence.

      Here’s a link to our school paper’s story: http://www.dailyiowan.com/2012/05/11/Metro/28411.html

    • Ian — I officially dig your story. Would love to see this project come to life. We’ll be hitting you up via email for your address and sending out a KNOW book to you soon!


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